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Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health

As announced late last week, New Zealanders can now receive the majority of other vaccines before, after, or at the same time as their COVID-19 vaccine, Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay says.

‘We know that there has been a disruption to routine vaccinations throughout the pandemic. This change to the immunisation programme will help get routine vaccinations back on track while we also ramp up our COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

‘The COVID-19 Technical Advisory Group (CV-TAG) has recommended that most routine vaccinations such as MMR, HPV and the influenza vaccine may be administered before, after, or at the same time as the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, without concern for spacing. The exception to this is the shingles vaccine, which has a recommended seven-day gap.

‘The recommended standard six-week gap between dose 1 and dose 2 of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine remains.

‘We are encouraging everyone who hasn’t already had the COVID-19 vaccine to do so. It’s important that we get as many people vaccinated against the disease as possible.

‘We have seen the impacts of the Delta COVID-19 outbreak in recent weeks, but it wasn’t long ago that we had a measles outbreak in New Zealand. It’s important that you don’t delay routine immunisations, as they help us to prevent widespread illness and protect our communities. Everyone should stay on track with routine vaccinations and not postpone them if they are also booked for the COVID-19 vaccine.  

‘At this stage, COVID-19 vaccination centres will only be offering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. If you are behind on routine vaccinations or are unsure, speak with your healthcare professional.’

Recommended routine vaccinations can be viewed on the New Zealand Immunisation Schedule.

‘Our priority is to ensure that everyone in Aotearoa age 12 and older who wishes to be vaccinated for COVID-19 can do so by the end of the year. We have enough vaccines for everyone, and they are available for free,’ says Dr McElnay.